Chapter 09

Adryk stretched as he began to stir under the blankets, hands instinctively coming up to rub his eyes attempting to rid himself of the night's lingering spell. Rising up he swung his feet over the edge of the bed allowing them to rest on the wooden floor.

Hunching forward the teen cupped his face in his hands icy blue eyes peeking over his fingertips. Lazily they wandered about his half of the shared room tracing along the walls to the heavy canvas tarp which spanned acrossed the width of the room. So far it had served as a more than adequate barrier between Hiccup's side and his own.

The two teens had been sharing the room peacefully for a couple of days now, and aside from the awkward initial adjustment period, Adryk had to admit he rather liked it. Sleeping in a bed again and even getting some privacy with the curtain. It was certainly better than sleeping downstairs in a bedroll.

This current arrangement arose when a still groggy Stoick had came down the stairs to start cooking breakfast. Reaching the bottom of the stairs he made his usual turn only to inadvertently trip over a still sleeping Adryk. It had been a painful awakening as the Viking's boot clad foot collided with the side of the teen's ribs. Feeling the sudden rush of pain jarred Adryk conscious with a yelp startling Stoick. In an attempt to dodge the rising teen he staggered away colliding with the wall causing one of the large pots to fall from its peg landing squarely on his head.

Luckily for the Viking chief, he was used to taking hard hits to his head by now. But still that fact didn't detract from the dull throbbing ache that followed.

After a few moments of regaining his composure Stoick decreed that no one would be sleeping in the downstairs room ever again.

The declaration, however, created a slight problem. Seeing that was where Adryk slept it sort of left him out in the cold, so to speak.

That was until Hiccup had suggested that the two of them could perhaps share his room. The suggestion was one that Stoick didn't respond to right away instead deciding to take the rest day to think on the matter before rendering his verdict. Finally at dinner that evening when the subject was revisited Stoick agreed. Stating that their house guest had proven himself atleast somewhat trustworthy and seemed to be getting along with Hiccup.

A day or so after Stoick was able to acquire an old bed for Adryk to sleep on rather than the bedroll. Though the bed came with a condition, that Adryk be able to move it into the house, up the stairs and into the room by himself.

At first it seemed a rather impossible task after getting a feel for the weight of the bed's frame. Then again it would be worth it to get off the floor with the flat uncomfortable Viking sleeping bag and onto an actual cushioned mattress. Gritting his teeth Adryk got to work moving the heavy frame.

During the move Adryk couldn't help but get the feeling this was some kind of test.

Especially given the expressions the Viking chief seemed to sport each time Adryk glanced at him. It sort of reminded him of the measuring stares the athletic coaches wore when they made him run the obstacle courses back in school.

Returning from his memories he could hear the howl of a particularly strong gust of wind outside. With the gust came the morning chill sending a shiver through Adryk, the chill was made all the colder with the return of his old sleeping habits. As with this new found privacy Adryk had gone back to sleeping in just the bare minimum.

Crossing his arms over his chest the teen rubbed at his upper arms in an attempt to generate some warmth and banish the cold.

Still what little warmth he received did little to help against the cool morning air. Standing he strode the short distance to the stool his clothing lay astride. Adryk sorted through the available garments laying the selected attire over his shoulder. With a satisfied nod Adryk replaced the rest before returning to the bed tossing down the chosen clothing.

Reaching down he took the midnight blue tunic in hand he looked it over. The tunic was one of several he received from the seamstress along with two pairs of pants. Though Adryk had to admit he much preferred wearing the military fatigues he arrived with.

The tunic was long-sleeved with a v-cut neck though it seemed Haldis had made it a size too big for his frame, giving it a somewhat baggy appearance as it fell abit passed his waistline. At first it took some getting used to as the linen-wool fabric mix itched against his skin, but after wearing it for a day or two and a thorough washing it had grown more comfortable. It actually was quite a intelligent design, the linen kept the tunic light and the extra size made it airy while the wool helped to give it durability and decent heat retention abilities. Together the combination managed to keep him cool when exerting himself and warm against the chilly winds.

After sliding the tunic over his head, his attention turned to his fatigues which he was as quick as ever to slip on. Pulling them up to his waist the teen tucked the excess material of his shirt underneath the trouser's waistband before quickly fastening the buttons.

Then teen's blonde head craned about as he searched for where he had left his boots. Finally he spotted them on the opposite side of the bed sitting against the wall. Hopping up he strode around the bed frame. However, in doing so he cut too sharply as the toes of his right foot clipped the heavy wooden frame. Instantly a surge of pain shot up from his foot causing him to seethe through clenched teeth. Lifting his foot from the ground Adryk clutched his aching toes in his hands in an attempt to sooth the pain away. Unfortunately the act had an unforeseen consequence.

His bending the knee of his only leg to stand on had thrown off his equilibrium. With no time to recover Adryk toppled over falling to the ground he landed with a heavy thud.

"Ahh-ooh" Adryk hissed through his teeth as he rolled over to once again cradle his aching foot, 'Shit that hurts' looking at his foot he tried wiggling his toes "Well atleast it doesn't seem like anything is broken."

Getting back onto his feet the teen hobbled over to the tarp. Peeling it back slightly revealed the other side of the room and its occupant. Gazing on it seemed that fortunately his misstep may have gone unnoticed as his roommate lay in bed seemingly undisturbed.

Satisfied he released the curtain and picked up his boots before carefully striding back to take a seat on the bed. Laying his right foot astride his lap Adryk examined his sore foot in better detail. With nothing permanently damaged he pulled his socks from the boots to slip them on before plunging his sock clad feet into the boots. Lacing up his boots Adryk stood plucking a grey furred vest which hung from a nearby nail.

After making his bed the teen crossed the room doing his best at being stealthy so as not to wake Hiccup. However, the squeaking of the door hinges seemed to make this a moot point. Flinching his gaze shifted to the sleeping figure checking for any signs of movement. After a tense moment much to his relief he saw none Adryk turned exiting the room trying to shut the door quieter than it had opened.

-xxx-

Hiccup's eyes fluttered open 'Where's he going?'

Sitting up in bed he cocked his head as he stared at the door. This wasn't the first time Hiccup had awakened to find that Adryk had apparently woken sometime before him and left the room. At first he or his father would find the other teen simply waiting downstairs. Yet for the past four days Adryk would seemingly vanish in the mornings.

After the first of his disappearances Stoick and he had set out to search for him, Hiccup had half-expected a bit of a lengthy hunt. Instead it took a mere five minutes or so to track him down only to discover the teen was at Gobber's workshop getting an early start. To prove it was where he had gone Adryk informed Stoick of the sentry who after running into him had escorted him to the smithery. After checking with the guard the story checked out. If Stoick harbored any more suspicions he kept them to himself, covering them with a compliment to the lad's work ethic before heading off.

Still though it had left Hiccup wondering 'Was that all Adryk was doing? Just getting an early start?'

Throwing back the covers Hiccup rose from bed deciding to find out for himself. Hastily he roamed about the room gathering his clothing and dressing as fast as he could. Though he was in a hurry as he made his way downstairs Hiccup still took care not to disturb his father's slumber. Once downstairs he looked about the room seeing no trace of Adryk.

Leaving the staircase Hiccup strode to the front door he opened it with equal speed.

It was still quite dark out with stars shining through the overcast skies, it was that strange transition period where night starts to end and day begins. The air was cool wafting up from the sea carrying with it the shore birds returning to their nests.

The teen's pale green eyes scanned the landscape below the hilltop.

His target was not far from the foot of the hill moving at a respectable pace following the stone path towards the village. Closing the door behind him Hiccup hurried down the path after the other teen. The brown haired teen trailed after the blonde hanging back just enough to leave a gap between Adryk and himself. The bit of distance allowed the Viking teen to keep Adryk in sight while at the same time it helped his presence go unnoticed.

Making his through the sleeping village Adryk kept an eye for any of the night patrols unlike he had the first morning. He also made sure to make as little noise as possible last thing he wanted to deal with a irate Viking villager. After all from what he'd seen most of the villagers were not what you would call early morning folk.

Spaces soon opened up as the village gave way to the fertile fields and the sounds of livestock.

An agitated bleat of a sheep gave the blonde teen pause causing him to turn as to ascertain the cause. The short wooly creatures wandered about the open field roaming between the piles of hay stopping every so often to take a bite.

Hiccup laid still staring out from his covered position as he watched the other teen for a tense moment.

When nothing seemed out of the ordinary Adryk turned away continuing onwards to his intended destination.

Letting out a sigh of relief the Viking teen rose from his hiding place. Rising from pile of grass he went about ridding himself of stray pieces that clung to his clothing. Looking himself over Hiccup was content he had gotten them all he returned to his task. The delay however had widened the gap giving Adryk a good sized lead forcing him to move at a faster pace.

Cresting a hill Hiccup stared down at the beach below.

Waves washed ashore continually renewing the sandy surface each time the waters would swell before ebbing and flowing back out to sea. It was the movements of the lone figure that strode along the shoreline that attracted his attention.

The other teen strode through what looked to be a debris field.

There were pieces of driftwood embedded in the sandy surface interspersed with rocks of various sizes. They ranged from small fist sized stones to large anvil sized boulders. Most strange were that some of pieces of wood were lashed together with lengths of rope creating short fences. Some of the fences seemed to be arranged to leave small gaps between them while others were made into longer walls.

Hiccup stood wondering how it all got there. As far as he knew nobody had ever settled on the beach, so what would fences be doing there?

Pushing the question aside he turned his attention back to what Adryk was up to. The teen stood on the beach just out of reach of the waves as he gazed out to the horizon. He lingered for a moment before turning away striding back to the scattered debris. Taking a long stick in hand he carved a long line in the sand before stabbing the stick into the loose soil.

Removing his vest Adryk hung it upon the upright stick. Then moving behind the line he had carved Adryk hunched over placing his hands on the line while bracing his feet looking like he was about push something heavy.

"What's he up to?" Hiccup mused looking over the scene. Then as he looked over the scattered debris it clicked together for the teen, Adryk had apparently at some point built himself an obstacle course and was preparing to run through it.

Adryk's sudden movement caught his eye as the blonde launched himself off the line. At a full run he moved down the beach. He weaved through the gaps in the small fences, vaulted over the larger fences before weaving through the stones as he made it to a pair of upright posts. Passing between them Adryk slowed pivoting on his left foot, the heel digging deeply into the sand as he turned. From his position Hiccup watched as Adryk now reran same course only in reverse.

Touching the starting again Adryk pivoted before setting off again.

Hiccup watched as he ran the course a third, then a fourth. By the fifth time Adryk's pace had become much slower as his legs quickly beginning to tire, several times his movements bordered on the uncoordinated as he nearly fell in leaping over the hurdles.

Crossing the start line for a final time he staggered to a halt. Hunching over hands placed on his knees, he could feel his heart thumping in his chest and his lungs expand with each ragged breath. The heavy breathing left a sore feeling in the teen's lungs each time they expanded. He continued to hold the position for a few minutes before finally straightening up.

Standing Adryk ignoring the slight burning ache in his legs, and strode towards some of the half-buried boulders retrieving his vest along the way. Taking a seat the blonde teen relaxed on the cold stone as best he could, feeling the misty morning breeze to blow over him, taking some of his excess body heat with it.

"So this is what you've been up to?" a voice spoke up.

Instantly the blonde teen's posture went rigid. At the sound of approaching footsteps squishing the soft sand his torso swiveled round to identify who was approaching. At the sight of the familiar Viking teen Adryk calmed allowing his posture to return to what it had been as he turned back to the sea.

"I figured it the mornings would be a good time to exercise" Adryk replied as the other teen took a seat. "What with no one to bother and the lack of distractions, plus the morning air helps me cool down afterwards." Leaning down he lifted a waterskin from its resting place at the boulder's base. Taking a quick gulp of the liquid contents he turned offering it up to Hiccup.

"Thanks" the Viking teen responded taking the offering "How long did it take you set up all this?"

"Oh," Adryk looked back at his little project "It took awhile, didn't help when that guard caught me walking about. Told him I was going to the workshop and he was okay with it but I didn't count on him escorting me." Adryk paused thinking back on it "Still being caught like that turned out to be a good thing, kept me from getting into more trouble" he chuckled lightly.

"So" Hiccup paused taking a second drink "Is this all you've been up to?"

A small half-grin appeared on Adryk's face "The first morning I had intended to explore the village but wound up at the workshop, still wasn't so bad. While I was there I tried my hand at learning to use a sword against those training dummies. Before you and your dad found me there cleaning" Adryk laughed looking to Hiccup "I probably looked like a damn fool to anyone who saw me."

Hiccup joined in with a chortle of his own sharing in the moment. Each understanding how it felt in their own way.

As the laughter died down Adryk continued "It was second morning when I started putting all this together. Didn't finish it till yesterday so today was the first day I was able to make use of it." Adryk's eyes settled on the ocean waves watching as they rose up only to topple over and flow up the beach. "Really been doing just about anything to keep myself busy…" his voice changed taking a forlorn tone as he spoke "To keep from thinking of home."

Hiccup turned regarding the other. Aside from the time he asked Adryk about his homeland this was the first time he had brought up the subject on his own. The fact still remained he was a stranger to their lands far from his home. Hiccup thought on it, if their roles had been reversed barring a clear way home he too would probably be doing anything to keep his mind off his predicament.

"It must be tough being away from your home" Hiccup said handing the waterskin back.

Adryk took the waterskin taking a quick gulp "I've been here awhile now." He paused recounting the time in his head "In a few days it will mark three weeks. So far things have been alright, though I could do without the odd stares from some of the villagers."

"Don't worry you get used to it" Hiccup jested attempting to lighten his spirits.

It seemed to help as Adryk smiled "You know, I gotta say this isn't how I pictured a Viking village."

"Oh how did you picture it?"

"Well" Adryk hesitated trying to find the words. "Where I'm from stories tell that Vikings were more or less wild men. They run about pillaging and conquering wearing nothing but bear skins, before going home to get drunk and celebrate. Glad to see those tales were clearly wrong." Looking to his side Adryk carefully studied the other teen's reaction hoping his words hadn't offended him.

"Well you can't always trust what stories tell" wisdom showing through with Hiccup's words as he spoke. "Besides just wait till you see the winter festivals" Hiccup spoke choosing to once again add humor to the mood "You might not think they so farfetched."

"Though there are some things I miss from home family, friends and a few other things" 'Oh indoor plumbing, oh how I miss you.'

The Viking teen looked to the sea that had brought the other to Berk "Look I bet if we talked to my dad he could talk things over with the Council and get them to have a ship help you get home."

Adryk's smile was accompanied by a light chuckle this time "I appreciate the offer, Hiccup. Unfortunately I don't think having a ship would be much help getting me home." He paused casting a glance skyward 'Not unless that ship can reach eighty-eight miles an hour and comes equipped with a flux capacitor.' "Truthfully Hiccup, I wouldn't even know where to begin or which way would lead me home. For all I know it could be that way" the teen's extended hand pointing out to sea "Or it could be that way" the same hand moved to point in the opposite direction.

"Even if your dad and the Council agreed to help I'd probably just wind up lost at sea with a ship full of angry Vikings" Adryk turned to his fellow teen "Not really an experience I'd care to go through."

A somber atmosphere seemed to again settle over the two teens as they sat watching the waves. However, it soon gave way to the serenity of the beach for a time before being quickly broken by the sounds of the village roosters cawing in the distance. The bird's incessant racket acting as nature's alarm clock no doubt rousing the villagers from their slumber.

The teens pivoted in the seats looking back to the village "I guess we ought to head back" one of the teens ventured gaining a nod of agreement from the other.

-xxx-

The sun had advanced in the sky above returning it to its usual light blue appearance with wisps of fluffy clouds.

The two teens made good time from the beach to the village. Already many of the locales were up and beginning to move about with those outside seemingly ignoring the two as they moved passed. Just ahead the smithery sat where it always had. a lone figure moving about its interior.

Assuming the shop's occupant to be Gobber the two gradually slowed their approach as they mentally prepared their apologies for being tardy.

The individual seemed to take notice of their advance as he moved to meet them at the entrance. The lads came to a sudden halt when the figure stepping into the daylight revealed itself not to be Gobber but Stoick. The Viking chief stared down at the teens with a rather cross looking expression.

"Oh hi dad" Hiccup squeaked out.

It seemed he was none too pleased about waking up to find his son had apparently disappeared along with their house guest "Where have you been?"

"Been…" Hiccup began.

"We were down at the beach getting some exercise" Adryk interrupted "I figured we could do some warm-ups before we start the day. It was all my idea and I apologize for not alerting you to our plans." The blonde haired teen paused bowing his head "I promise it won't happen again."

Stoick stood silent and imposing, his left eyebrow held higher than normal. His gaze shifting from Adryk to Hiccup and back again as scrutinized their story.

As he did so Adryk began to worry the older Viking was going to decide to punish them and just what kind of punishment he might come up with. It seemed like an eternity had passed before he spoke again, "Aye you're right on that" he started "Tis one thing when a guest leaves the house, but when the guest and my son both disappear it's something else all together. From now on neither of you are to leave in the mornings without telling me about it."

"Yes sir" the teens answered in unison.

Stoick lingered for a few moments. Then with a final stare to make sure he had driven his point home with the two lads; the Viking chief turned away as he strode off making his way back through the village streets.

Hiccup cast a last glance to his father before he and Adryk made their way into the workshop. Before heading inside the duo inspected the drop off cart Gobber had recently placed out front of the workshop. Wheeling it inside the Adryk and Hiccup went about their usual routines, sorting ores by grade for smelting, cleaning and igniting the furnace, and sorting the cart's contents.

"Ah good to see you both getting such an early start today" Gobber's lighthearted tone rang out with his entrance.

The two teens were quick to offer up their usual greetings to the older Viking as he strode about the shop. Moving the west wall taking the leather aprons that hung there in hand Gobber turned handing one to each teen before donning his own. Taking his usual stance by the anvil Gobber paused as he laid his hand on his hammer prosthetic.

"I believe something different is on today's menu" the older Viking announced "Adryk come over here lad."

Obeying the teen turned taking his hands from the bellows as he strode to the indicated location. He moved at a cautious pace unsure of just what the older Viking had in mind for him.

Gobber turned striding a short distance to a cluttered table. The room's other occupants could hear their mentor mumbling something as he sorted through the mess. "No that won't do" Gobber said tossing a lump of something to the side "Ah much better." Turning Gobber faced the curious teens "Here ya go," his words were more a word of warning as the blacksmith tossed the object in hand to the teen.

The sudden movement caught Adryk off guard as he fumbled with the weighty object. Settled he looked to what he had in his hands, it was a steel bar which measured four inches long, an inch or so wide and just about half an inch thick. Lifting his gaze from the metal slab he looked to the Viking his question easily read on his face.

"Today I want you to make a knife out of that block" Gobber spoke moving away from the anvil.

"What really," Adryk's gaze returned to the cold steel block in his hands "I mean I thought that you would have had me studying to learn more about this before I actually did anything."

"Oh aye, you do have a great deal more to learn" Gobber replied as he strode to the teen "But what better way than to experience it firsthand. You can think of it as my way of seeing if you've got what it takes to be a blacksmith, even Hiccup here went through the same test."

Moving forwards Adryk placed the block on the anvil listening the small clank "Is there any particular style or design I am supposed to try or what?"

"No my boy," Gobber shook his head, adding, "It's your knife you'll be making; it's completely up to you. You can make it as complex or as simple as ya like."

His words gave Adryk pause as he once again regarded the steel bar. The workings of his mind ran through the various types of knives he had seen before and just how hard it would be to make one. Should he stick with a simple utilitarian design or should he perhaps try for something more complex in effort to impress Gobber? In the end Adryk decided to go for the simple design rather than risk failure with some complex stylistic design, especially considering his week or so of forge experience.

With a mental image of what he wanted Adryk gripped the block with a pair tongs before depositing it within the furnace. Then began the wait while the steel began to slowly heat. With such a small piece of metal it wasn't long before the block began to glow a bright orange. With care Adryk removed the block from forge to place it back on the anvil.

Making use of a shorter set of tongs to hold the block he picked up the nearby hammer. With a heavy swing the hammer came down on the glowing metal with a clank and small shower of sparks. As he repeated the process Adryk was keenly aware of both Gobber and Hiccup watching him as they worked.

Clank after clank rang out as the hammer struck.

A smirk grew on Adryk's face. He remembered seeing photos of blacksmiths in history class or in movies about medieval times and thinking how simple their tasks seemed, what could have been hard about hammering metal. No longer, now he was quickly learning just how un-simple it really was. The act of blacksmithing was obviously demanding physically but it also required a good level of mental concentration. The main thing right now he always had to be aware of was the position and angle of each hammer strike to ensure the proper shape and even balance to the knife.

The process was slow and repetitive: heat, strike, heat, strike. Rinse and repeat, though it paid off as the metal block became progressively longer and thinner with each hammer blow.

Time seemed to fly by from Adryk's perspective, his shoulder and arm were beginning to cramp but it seemed his task was coming to an end. Drawing back Adryk looked over his work for a final time feeling satisfied with it. Using the tongs the blonde teen carried the still glowing piece of metal to the quenching bucket. The water boiled on contact and a jet of steam left the surface with a quiet hiss as the red hot piece of metal was submerged.

After a short count the almost finished knife was removed from the water. No longer glowing the dripping dull grey knife was carried back to the anvil where it placed to await its final inspection. Wiping the sweat from his brow Adryk stepped away eager to hear what Gobber had to say about his work.

Though it was still rather warm to the touch, it wasn't so much that Gobber couldn't handle it. Holding the knife in hand Gobber looked it over noting its simple design, which considering it was done by a novice wasn't a bad thing.

The knife was well balanced about ten or eleven inches in length and little over a quarter of an inch at its thickest, possessing a single edge as opposed to a dual edge. The blacksmith noted that while the knife's spine and cutting edge were kept at a nearly straight angle the handle possessed a slight curvature to it, allowing it to better fit the hand's grip. The guard consisted of a simple peg style which marked the bottom of the edge and spine. Going from the top of the spine the knife grew towards the middle creating a small ridge before thinning back out to the blade's edge. The ridge gave the blade a squished diamond appearance when viewed head-on.

Most intriguing to Gobber was the peculiar tip the blade possessed.

While the majority of blades possessed a often gentle curvature where the cutting edge would slope to meet the tip, this one did not. Starting at the tip the edge slanted downward at a rather steep angle that created a secondary point where it met with the knife edge.

All in all the knife was a fair piece of work for a beginner. "Fair bit of work my boy" Gobber said moving to return the knife to Adryk "It's an interesting design, how exactly did you come up with that?"

"Figured it would be best to stick to a easy design it's based on a knife I had back home." The teen moved retrieving the knife from the smith's extended hand "So does this mean I passed the test?"

"I would say you have the makings of a bladesmith in ya" the Viking's words was accompanied by a hardy pat to the back "That is if you keep working at it."

Adryk paused with the Viking's words as something began to stir within him. It was an old emotion that had been pushed aside long ago and laid dormant ever since, pride. For the first time in years the feeling swelled becoming the dominant emotion. As it grew the teen couldn't help but contemplate it, it wasn't like this was the first compliment he had been given. He had received a veritable plethora of compliments in the past; from his parents when he was younger, from his teachers & coaches in school, and plenty more from his friends. Each one as flattering as the last.

However, as he grew older they became rarer forcing him to bury the emotion. Now with a few simple words this eccentric Viking blacksmith had unburied what he had forgotten and now it ran amuck with him. And now it left Adryk with a new question, why did these words have such an impact where others did not?

"Come on lads," Gobber strode to the wall returning his apron to its place "I believe it's time for a break." The Viking smith turned toward the shop exit stopping only to exchange his current hammer prosthetic for one with a heft beer stein attached.

Hiccup mimicked his mentor's actions hanging his apron before turning to follow. Casting a glance over his shoulder he noticed the other teen hadn't really moved from his spot. "Aren't you coming too?" the Viking teen inquired.

"Go on ahead, I'll catch up… I just have to take care of a few things first."

With a nod silent nod Hiccup turned following Gobber out the door. With the other two gone, it left the blonde teen in the workshop with nothing but his turbulent emotions for company.

-xxx-

Gobber turned away his plate loaded up with his usual fare. Moving through the maze of people, tables and chairs all the while determined not to let a single crumb fall. At his approach Stoick turned scanning the faces present for the blacksmith's apprentices.

Placing the hefty plate down the bald Viking took a seat at his usual table with Stoick and the others.

No sooner had he taken his seat when a voice spoke up "So Gobber, how are things at the forge with that foreigner?"

"Things are quite well" Gobber replied taking quick bite of the delectable looking roasted chicken "With the extra hands we're getting more done than before." Turning to his right the bald Viking looked to his friend Stoick "I tell you Stoick; that Adryk is a lot like your boy." The comment attracting looks from some gathered about the table.

At the mention of his son the Viking chief turned. "Of Hiccup?" he asked curious to his friend's answer.

"Oh aye," he blacksmith nodded "Those two are actually quite alike. Adryk seems just as quiet if not more so, I'd wager if you turned your back on him in the woods by the time you turned around he'd disappear with those odd pants he wears." Gobber paused in his line of speech to take a few more bites from his plate "The two are hard workers, quick to figure things out, good with their hands…"

"Not to mention sticks out like a sore thumb" the comment earned a quick glare from the blacksmith.

"What you say may be true," Stoick conceded as he thought on the matter. As he thought the surprising similarities became more apparent.

One of the other Vikings drank deeply from his mug before speaking "But still it remains Adryk is an outsider to this tribe, different."

"Exactly" Gobber replied with enthusiasm "It's the fact that both are viewed as outsiders, and do not act with the usual Viking bravado that gives them the most common ground. Besides its good to see that Hiccup has someone to talk with."

"And keep him out of the way" the same someone chirped up earning a brief round of chuckling from others.

"Oh aye, since the Elder put him on this task there hasn't been a single Hiccup related accident yet."

Gobber merely shook his head at the quip as he eyed Stoick. The Viking chief remained silent on the matter looking lost in contemplation for a moment before it was lost. His eyes wandered the room scanning the gathered crowd for form of his son and the foreigner. It took but a moment to spot the brown haired teen sitting at the far end of the hall, oddly the other teen was absent.

Looking on Stoick once again heard Gobber's words ringing in his ears. Stoick admitted to himself it was indeed good to see Hiccup had a friend to talk with, aside from his blacksmith mentor. So far he had to say Adryk might shape up to be a positive influence on his son, already he had gotten his son to join him in workouts even though they had left without telling him and caused him some concern. An added plus was the teen's sudden arrival had also managed to take away much of the unwanted attention typically reserved for his son.

The chief's gaze lingered on his son for a while longer before the growl of his stomach directed his attention away and back to his plate.

-xxx-

Swallowing the last morsel of food Hiccup reached for his cup to wash it down. Setting the cup aside the teen swung his legs over the bench in preparation to stand, hesitating a moment as he looked about the room for his seemingly absentee roommate. Looking about he wondered if perhaps Adryk had chosen to sit at another table.

For the briefest instant a small spoke up in the back of his mind. 'Who could blame him for wanting to sit away from the village reject?' the voice stated before being silenced.

Standing soiled dishes in hand Hiccup made his way to the large washing basin situated at the rear of the mead hall. While it was typical most diners would leave their used plates and mugs on the tables for whomever had been selected for cleanup duty that day. Having participated in the clean up on several occasions and after seeing the mess they had to contend with Hiccup chose to lighten the load by cleaning up after himself.

After a quick wash he set the objects aside to dry. Turning the teen's green eyes wandered about the room checking for any sign of his roommate. The meal time crowd had thinned out considerably from what it had started out as aiding in his hunt.

It came as a bit of a surprise when he was unable to locate any sign of the other teen. For a short time Hiccup wondered if Adryk had even come to eat or if he had gotten so busy he forgot about lunch. In a scene reminiscent of that morning Hiccup decided to set out in search of him.

Passing through the Hall's doors Hiccup stood atop the stoop surveying the village below. From his vantage point he could just make out the vague shapes on the beach representing the obstacle course Adryk had built. 'I wonder if he's down there again.'

Continuing onward the brown haired Viking teen followed along the stone steps. As the brown haired teen moved passed the stone pedestals he was ambushed by a group of familiar faces.

"Hey look who we have here" a voice rang out.

It was Snotlout and the teen accompanied by the usual tagalongs. The twins stood just behind him to the right while his compatriot Gagarr followed at closer distance, sticking to the teen like a shadow stuck to its caster.

"Where are you going in such a hurry, Hiccup?" Ruffnut paused casting a glance around "Where's that charge of yours, I don't see him anywhere?"

"He's…" Hiccup began only to be interrupted by one of the group.

"What's a matter Hiccup did you lose him or something?" Gagarr jeered earning a bout of cruel laughter.

Snotlout approached the scrawnier teen "Or did the Council finally wise up and replace you?" He looked to the others as if boasting before he continued "Maybe now they'll pick someone who will better keep an eye on him."

Usually when such taunts would pass between two Vikings, one of them would then introduce the other to the floor.

So some might agree it was lucky for the group of hecklers that Hiccup was not the typical Viking. Though while it may have appeared that he took their comments in stride, on the inside it was a different matter. Even after years of listening to such remarks it still pricked his feelings like the stinging of an insect. Being as he was Viking there was of course that small voice which spoke to him demanding retribution for such a trespass.

Hiccup did his best to keep his composure from betraying his feelings as he stood listening to them as they had their laugh.

"Come on guys, let's go eat I'm starving" Tuffnut interrupted cutting short their revelry.

Hiccup could hear them make a few more comments until they disappeared from earshot. The Viking teen lingered for a few moments as he took the time to recompose himself before he followed their example and continued on.

The sky was turning a deep orangish red as the sun began its descent over the horizon.

Hiccup moved through the village his preoccupied by other matters. Ever since lunch he had, in a scene reminiscent of that morning, been out searching his absentee roommate. He had scoured the beach, searched the outskirts of the village by the woods, and even gone back to check through the house and nothing. He had even talked with a few of the Viking residents to see if they had per chance seen the teen, All turned up nothing.

"Oh come on, his outfit doesn't let him blend in that well" Hiccup grumbled kicking a small rock from his path.

It then seemed that the boy's luck had decided to interfere and not for the better.

The stone sailed a fair distance through the air before striking some unfortunate passerby in the back of the skull. As the pain washed over him the man released his grip on the end of a large log he had been carrying. Unable to deal with the full weight of the log the man on the other end was forced to let go as well. A spilt second later he yowled out in pain as the log fell on his foot, gripping his injured foot the man began to hop about groaning.

The log meanwhile had begun to roll down the inclined path.

The rolling mass then bowled down other villagers along the road before it knocked over a crate containing feathers and another containing few live chickens. Freed the fowl dashed about flapping their wings and clucking like madmen. Further down the path lay a final obstacle. A cart heavily laden with fish and fish parts rested at the bend in the road by the edge of short plateau overlooking the path on the tier below.

*THWUMP*

The log collided with the side of the cart accompanied by the sound of cracking wood. With the force of the blow the cart was pushed in the opposite direction, tipping over the contents where set free. In a disgusting mockery of rain the fish and fish parts rained down on the crowd below.

A cacophony of shouts and sour groans met the teen's ears causing him to tuck his head.

Rubbing the back of his head the man who it all started began to turn, his eyes smoldering in anger as he sought out the guilty party. Wisely Hiccup was even quicker with his reaction. With haste the teen ducked down the gap between two of the houses on his right. He lingered but for a moment to listen for any signs of pursuit before taking a sneaking off down the alley.

A short time later he found himself standing back in front of the workshop. 'Where is he?' scratching his head the teen let out an exasperated sigh as he strode into the small building.

Looking the place over it appeared someone had been through and cleaned up. Rather thoroughly at that. The tools had all been gathered, sorted and placed according to type. The furnace had been cleared of ash and any remnants of unburnt coal; it now sat clean as the day it had been built. Even the floor had been swept as well further adding to the unsoiled appearance of the workshop. "Someone's been busy" Hiccup mused as he examined the area. Turning he noticed the flickering glow coming from the back of the shop. It was there he found the teen for which he had been searching for.

Adryk sat hunched over on a short stool, elbows resting on his knees he looked to be holding something in his hands. Maneuvering himself around the Viking teen attempted to get a better view of what it was.

It was the knife Adryk had made spent the day working on. Though from what Hiccup could see he had apparently continued working on. The flat grip was no longer bare instead it was wrapped in leather, the edge had no doubt been sharpened, and near the base of the pommel a small hole had been struck. From the hole a thin braided strip of leather hung, its ends tied together to create a small loop.

Looking at it Hiccup had to admit the loop seemed a clever idea, with the loop around your wrist you would be less likely to drop the knife if you lost your grip on it. It would also make it harder for an opponent to disarm you.

Hiccup moved closer his opening to speak only to stop when caught sight of the other's face. The look he wore reminded him of that morning, but this look was different. Those icy blue eyes were focused on the knife cradled in his hands, their narrowed appearance and intense gaze made them seem all the colder and harsher to the Viking teen. His face looked to be contorted in a chaotic turmoil as if he was barely keep his emotions under control and that slightest disturbance may tip the balance.

As curious as this scene made the dark haired teen he knew better than to disturb someone in such a state. Especially when said person was armed.

Quietly as he could Hiccup began to retrace his steps back out the way he came. Outside the workshop he looked about. He paused mid-step hearing the sounds of the commotion he had a small hand in 'Dad'll have his hands full so it's probably best if I make myself scarce.' Turning the Viking teen made for home, all the while making sure to draw as little attention to himself as possible.

-xxx-

Faintly Adryk was aware of the presence of another in the room but his inner turmoil held his attention. He continued to gaze at the knife as Gobber's compliment from earlier rang in his ears. Still he could not understand why those words have affected him so.

After Hiccup and Gobber had gone for a meal leaving him alone with his thoughts, Adryk tried to push them aside by putting the finishing touches on the knife. He had honed and sharpened the blade edge to the point where he could probably shave with it if he wanted. Before wrapping the handle an idea struck him.

Using the furnace he heated the pommel and used a hole-punch to put a quarter-inch sized hole near the bottom.

After cooling he proceeded to bind the handle with a leather strip for a better grip and to make it more comfortable to hold onto. Following that he cut a short strip of leather, braided it then fed it through the hole before tying it off to make a lanyard. A nice safety catch to keep him from losing it.

Looking over the now finished blade that same sense of pride returned to him.

That's when the words spoke to him and again he sought a diversion. Adryk moved about the workshop as if on auto pilot: cleaning, polishing, sorting and replacing items. Doing all he could to keep from dealing with his own emotions.

But that only lasted so long until he found himself sitting on a stool with nothing to do. And that is where he had been ever since.

'What the hell is wrong with me?' the teen shouted in his head 'What am I doing.' Standing abruptly he briskly strode acrossed the shop stopping as he caught sight of his reflection on a polished shield. To anyone he would have looked the same as ever. Save perhaps his hair was just a tiny bit longer so as to be unnoticeable, but there was a difference. Locking stares with his likeness he did notice it, his eyes were still the same yet not.

He held the gaze for a few moments. Despite their chilly blue they didn't seem as cold as he had remembered them being every other time he looked at them. It was a strange sensation for him as he looked on.

Only the glint of the dying daylight caught by the shield broke this seemingly endless staring contest. "Shit," he said as he turned to look at the horizon from the shop's window realizing just how late it was getting. "I better get back to Hiccup's house. Oh I hope I don't get into trouble for this, I'd hate to see kinds of punishments they dish out here."

Grabbing a piece of thick leather Adryk wrapped the knife in it to act as a sheath until he could make a proper one. Tucking it into the waistband of his pants the blonde teen set off.

Heading for Hiccup's house he paused but for short stint as he stopped to look some action that was going on.

There were villager's moving about gathering up a large volume of fish that apparently had spilled out acrossed the road from an overturned cart on the plateau above. Though more attention grabbing were those who ran about chasing down chickens as the darted about trying remain free for as long as possible. Above all the smell was rather pungent, also some of the villagers appeared to have bits of fish or feathers clinging to the fur of their coats and vests.

Not wishing to delay and risk a harsh punishment Adryk continued onwards.

The teen came to a stop after reaching the bottom of the hill the house sat atop. His gaze locked on the door he began his ascent; each footstep seemed to grow heavier the closer he got to the door. Finally standing just in front of the wooden entrance he paused taking a breath to calm his nerves he reached out taking hold of the handle.

Adryk had half-expected to find Stoick sitting in the main room waiting to have some long talk or perhaps deal out a punishment for being out late. So it came as a surprise when the door opened only for him to find Hiccup sitting alone by the fire pit.

At the sound of the door opening Hiccup looked up, "Welcome back" he offered in greeting.

The other teen looked about the room with a seemingly worried look on his face, "What's wrong?"

"Oh nothing really" Adryk replied moving to take a seat "I just kinda expected your dad would be here to lecture me about being out after dark."

Hiccup let out a nervous chuckle "He's not here at the moment probably busy with council business or something."

"You mean like that cleanup. I saw that on the way here what happened?"

"Don't know" the Viking teen answered feigning ignorance. "I bet you're hungry since you missed out on lunch" Hiccup spoke trying to change the subject.

After missing out on the earlier meals Adryk couldn't deny his body's desire for sustenance. At the mention of food he could feel his stomach begin to tighten and churn making its wants plain as day to the lad. "Yeah you could say that." He watched as Hiccup stood retrieving one of large pans from a hook, "Shouldn't we wait for your dad?"

"I think he's got his hands full right now" Hiccup replied placing the pan over the open flame on a shelf made from a set of bars that crossed the fire pit.

From there the teen looked on as the other strode to a small cupboard and gathered up cooking supplies. He dug through a few small sacks retrieving vegetables for a side dish, herbs for seasoning, and the main course of some rather good sized slabs of beef. Soon the sounds of meat sizzling on the hot skillet filled the room and the smell made Adryk's stomach groan with lust. Sitting back Adryk couldn't help but find Hiccup's cooking remind him of some of the cooking shows he had seen.

The Viking teen sliced, diced and chopped the vegetables and herbs adding them to the pan. The addition of some of the spices he on hand changed the aroma making the already appealing food come acrossed even more delectable.

Luckily it wasn't long before the meat had reached the proper color signaling its readiness. Removing the pan from the fire, Hiccup set it aside before placing its contents on their plates.

The food had barely begun to cool before Adryk had started to cut into it. The moment it touched his tongue he realized how hungry he apparently was, as that first piece was quickly followed a second. Then a third and so on. Everything from the texture of the meat to the flavorings of the spice was delicious.

"Whoa" Adryk paused "Gotta hand it to you, Hiccup. You're a great cook."

"Thanks" the Viking teen replied just swallowing his first bite "I actually do most of the cooking since my dad can barely seem to cook a fish properly at times."

"I mean it this is far better than what they were serving up yesterday" Adryk spoke nearing the end of his meal.

"Yeah, most Vikings aren't much for seasoning their food. They prefer just to cook it and eat it" Hiccup remarked earning a nod from the other.

With his hunger it didn't take the blonde teen long to finish his plate. After placing the soiled plate in the wash basin Adryk sat back relaxing as his now contented stomach began the process of dealing with the food.

Sharing good food and a drink it was only natural that conversation followed. The two teens conversed for a while, though Hiccup's curiosity still whispered to him to ask about what he had seen in the workshop he chose not to press it and let Adryk bring it up on his own if he chose to.

The pair were laughing with the joke that passed between them. However, their laughter died down as a strange new sound filled the air. The low deep bellowing of a distant horn reverberated through the room.

"What was that?" Adryk inquired looking to the door. Turning away the puzzled look on his face changed to concern when he observed the look about the other teen. Hiccup had frozen; his face appeared to have lost some of its color. "Hiccup?" the blonde lad asked concerned for his friend.

Hiccup didn't respond. The Viking teen had set his half filled plate and was up in a flash moving to the door. "They're here!" he exclaimed opening the door.

"What?" Adryk asked following suit "Hiccup, who's here?"

The other teen seemed to ignore the other's inquiry as he hurried down the hill. He moved as fast as his legs could carry him leaving Adryk standing atop the hill.

The sky had darkened considerably as just a faint trace of daylight lingered on the horizon and the stars began to signal the arrival of night. The foreign teen remained on the hill in front of the house watching as villagers below scrambled about. The horn was louder without the obstruction of the walls to dampen the noise. But the sound that intrigued him the most was the unusually loud flapping that came from the darkness above.

Before he could cast his glance skyward the village was lit up by an explosion of flames. Adryk recoiled in shock as another fireball fell from the sky striking one of the houses. The flapping grew in volume until the source came swooping down from the sky.

The creature was large its wings easily stretched thirty feet or more and its orange-red scaled body was just as long. Most disturbing was the fact the beast was not alone in the sky. The sight filled Adryk with a sense of awe, disbelief and fear. "No way" were the only words that he managed to utter.